Getting Up Close and Personal with GPS


By Megan Cox

Over the past two weeks, I’ve finally managed a few outside runs. This is a welcome break from the treadmill, which puts new meaning into the phrase, “going nowhere fast.”

Of course, running outside during an Oklahoma August means getting up at the buttcrack of dawn, before the one-hundred degree temperatures even think of making their unwanted appearance.

These are the sacrifices we runners make.

So, I’m enjoying the wind in my face (sort-of), the big open sky, and the lack of an electronic panel in front of me on these early morning journeys. That doesn’t mean I leave technology behind, however.

No, I’ve got a big, fat GPS watch that keeps my run times and distances honest. Painfully honest. But he is my first GPS watch, and I do love him. My hubby and I purchased him when we took on our first marathon, and he’s given me several good years.

But as much as I love old GPS watch, I can’t help but wish for something new and flashy. I just adore cutting edge technology. In fact, I’m most content when I’m sitting with my laptop, Kindle, Blackberry, and Ipod all at the same time. And I’m certain I need a fancy new tablet. (Hint, hint. Can someone forward this to my husband?)

Anyway, I took a gander at some of the latest and greatest technology out there for runners who want to measure, time, and map their runs. Using Techtwirl to compare and contrast, I then visited each product of interest on Amazon to get helpful information like lowest prices and product reviews.

Some of the most popular products come from some very familiar names in the watch and navigation world: Timex, Garmin, and Nike by TomTom. Here are a few of my favorites, categorized by their most attractive qualities.

Slim and Sexy

Uh, those are two qualities that most previously pregnant women are in constant pursuit of. Actually, scratch that. We all are in pursuit of being slim and sexy. You know it’s true. To help with that, Nike is offering the Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom for about $170.

You can’t help but whistle when you see this sleek little watch. I will tell you, you would not whistle at my current GPS watch. In fact, it kind of looks like a correctional tracking device, making it as useful for deterring trouble as measuring distance.

Understated Bells and Whistles

Our next contestant shows that sometimes slow and steady wins the race. The Timex Global Trainer Speed and Distance GPS Watch sells for between $150 and $200. This nifty gadget doesn’t have the sex appeal of the Nike one, but it keeps track of all kinds of useful stuff.

In addition to tracking speed, distance, and pace like the Nike watch, it has an altimeter that measures altitude, and ascent and descent rates. It also has a 20-workout memory. This puppy is really geared toward the serious runner, and its appearance is just that—serious.

The Fully-Loaded Over-The-Top

For those with a bigger budget, the Garmin Forerunner 310XT Waterproof Running GPS With USB ANT Stick and Heart Rate Monitor packs a wallop of options in a sleek gray and orange design. This thing is still big—not correctional facility big, but big nonetheless.

It’s really geared for the triathlete, but it does send data wirelessly to your computer. It’s a little bit much for me. I mean, with a price tag of almost $300, it’s worth twelve boxes of diapers. Not really in my budget.

So I think I’ll stick with Old Reliable. He may not be new or flashy, but he gets the job done. And that, for the moment, is enough. But a girl can dream…

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.

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